Touché Amoré

support Birds In Row + No Omega
author TL date 14/05/14 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

As detailed in our recent Groezrock feature, I have recently started to open my eyes to what people have been seeing in Touché Amoré these past few years, and after the band highlighted the festival for me this year, there was no way I was going to miss their show at intimate Loppen even if it would only be ten days between seeing them. Sadly, the world's most inflexible daytime job struck again and rooted me in an office until 22:00, and hence I would not get to witness Touché's chosen support bands No Omega or Birds In Row. So while I was counting minutes behind a screen, PP took on the duty of reviewing the support bands and without further ado then, I hand the word over to him:

Full gallery from the show available at troest.nu

No Omega

Tonight's openers are No Omega from Stockholm, who have been waiting a long time to be a part of this tour if we are to believe their vocalist. They play a brand of emotionally charged hardcore that borrows parts from Touché Amoré's pioneering soundscape, but is mostly heavier and more aggressive in its nature. The band has a very energetic live show, where their vocalist is violently bouncing across the stage while the rest of the band is engaged in heavy duty headbanging. Early on, things get a little awkward because the kickdrum breaks, which leaves their guitarist(?) talking calmly to the crowd for an extended period of time in near complete silence. Finally the problem is solved, and the band continue playing songs, some more melodic than others. "Thank you so much for coming out to see us", their guitarist says, in reference to the botched circumstances at the No Omega headlining show at KB18last year, which suffered from a terrible turnout for their set. Tonight, the venue is packed, which allows the band members to channel their energy through the people standing at the front. Still, their songs are a little too anonymous to make a powerful impact on first time listeners like those present for a support slot like this. /PP

Birds In Row

The live show of French blackened hardcore group Birds In Row is explosive to say the least, at least for the parts that I can see from where I am standing. The band's microphone stands are namely among the lowest I've ever seen live, more suitable for dwarfs than actual people. This means that the band are playing their instruments and screaming to their microphones far below the front rows of the crowd, meaning it's next to impossible to catch a glimpse of what's going on. Every now and then, the band retreat from their microphones, allowing us to see a little better. Here, the vocalist is aggressively headbanging and bouncing against his amps; the other dude is basically all hair on the other side of the stage. Together, the two guys create an intriguing performance that ranges from the murky and brooding when they are low down to the crazy and violently unpredictable when they push away from the microphones. The atmosphere they build is fantastic; the second last song in particular is great and receives wild applause from the crowd when it finishes. Here, the band uses some more melody, which is definitely to their advantage. More songs like these, and their set would be amazing. /PP

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Touché Amoré

Emerging in the venue fresh from work as Birds In Row round off their set, I have barely enough time to grab a beer and try to get into the atmosphere before tonight's headliners take the stage. While far too sober for the circumstances, I'm pretty stoked, which I evidently share with the first three rows of audience, all of whom squeeze up close to the stage front to shout along as Jeremy Bolm and his mates kick things off. As is fitting, the vocalist's energy is high from the beginning, as he performs as the "side-to-side frontman", pacing frantically across the stage with eyes peeled for devoted fans to share the mic with. Having seen the band twice before (at Hevy Fest 2011 and of course Groezrock this year) I quickly realise that this is going to be the worst Touché Amoré set so far however, because despite calls for adjustment from both the stage and the audience, Bolm's vocals stay far too low in the mix, making it impossible to make out the clearly screamed lyrics that are so important to the intense Touché Amoré experience.

What really becomes interesting to me then, is how well can the band fare with such a considerable handicap? Fairly well it seems, at least if you're in those three mentioned front rows, where people are soon piling up on each other to get to scream those intensely relateable lyrics that they - as big fans - clearly don't really need to hear to recognise. I make out "Just Exist" and "Praise / Love" which are favourites of mine early in the set, and while others take over where I fail to know the words, Bolm soon looks like the feeling of communion is making up for the lacking mix. The remaining band members are mobile, yet mostly leave it to their frontman to draw attention to himself, which clearly satisfies those who came to the show as disciples beforehand. Further back it's harder to see what's going on at all, and robbed of vision it's hard not to lament the lacking vocal component in the sound, but you can still see that there's a reciprocal dedication in play here that few bands can manage to anchor.

The show proceeds past songs like "~", "Condolences" and of course "Is Survived By" and the divide between the zealous pandemonium up front and the slightly challenged listeners in the back is maintained. Bolm and his friends refrain from speaking much between songs, at least until the very end, when they extend their gratitude towards one fan who has followed the tour and is seeing them for the sixth time this year tonight. His request for them to repeat a song they've already played is gracefully denied however, in favour of "Gravity, Metaphorically", after Jeremy Bolm has laughed off his first encounter with the typical Danish "play something with Slayer!" joke. Yet somehow this brief exchange before the end underscores exactly what makes Touché Amoré outstanding even when faced with banal sound issues: Here is a band whose music connects immediately and where the gap between band and audience, although maintained graciously off stage, feels almost completely closed during the set. If you ever read about the term "emotive hardcore", this is what that means: When the singer isn't singing for you or performing to you but is instead creating the experience with you. And that, despite being sought after by many, is still so rarely achieved that it goes a long way to overcome even the most crippling practical circumstances. /TL

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